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Nebraska Radio History Archive Presentation:

Lincoln's BEST Rock & Roll?

In 1992, 20 Years of Rock and Roll history went down the drain.   The "Rock and Roll Legend" was dead by 1991 when it was purchased by a company who apparently had a different direction in mind (or had no idea how to let a rock format exist and be successful without messing with it).  Before it landed at 101.9 it was on 95.3 and an application was filed to move the station to 107.3.  While 95.3 (later 95.1) eventually became home to KLDZ/KNET/KRKR and 107.3 would eventually originate from Broadcast House as KLIN-FM/KEZG/KBBK, KFMQ did indeed 'wander' up the dial to 101.9, unrelated to the current stations at 95 or 107. 

Joe Moell recently updated us on the beginning of what would eventually become KFMQ 102.  

Herb Burton put the station on the air in  1958 on 95.3 (it was never 96.9) with a resounding 343 watts from the  Terminal Building.  By the time I became the station's engineer in 1965, a  new 6-bay antenna had increased the ERP to 1 KW.    As a sophomore in Engineering at UofN, I had visited every station in Lincoln  looking for engineering work and only Herb had an opening.  (A year later I  got a second job at KLOL/KECK.)  When Herb discovered that I could correctly  pronounce Dvorak and Shostakovich, he put me on the air and I soon became the  regular morning guy.  All the air people except the PD were college students, paid the state minimum wage (not the higher federal rate).  Burton claimed that the signal didn't cross state lines.

The format was all classical, all the time, except for jazz on Saturday nights and occasional broadcasts of legislative debates live from the Unicameral chambers.  And there was "Equal Time" on Sunday nights, with live in-studio discussions and arguments on topics of the day.  Hannity and Colmes it wasn't.  Burton had a contract with a food store chain to sponsor 52 broadcasts of local classical concerts per year.  When I signed on, the year was half over and there had only been a few programs taped and broadcast.  So I spent many evenings dragging a heavy Ampex mono tape deck, mixer, and mikes to concerts and recitals all over the Lincoln college campuses, taping them for playback on KFMQ.

Herb sold KFMQ to the Agnew family a couple of years later, and it almost doomed the station.  The new owners soon discovered (so they claimed) that Burton had inflated his advertising billing figures, making the station's actual worth much less than what they had paid.  A lawsuit ensued, a trial (non-jury) was held, and then the judge sat on the case, refusing to rule and trying in vain to get the parties to settle among themselves.  I don't think they ever did.  The legal fees and delays took their toll, and KFMQ nearly went into receivership.

Hoping to increase revenues and save the station, the Agnews slowly began introducing rock programming, first replacing the Jazz Hours, and then expanding to other dayparts.  Mrs. Agnew became the de facto Program Director and the two Agnew sons began taking air shifts, making KFMQ a true family operation.

In December 1967, I wrote an application to FCC on behalf of KFMQ to move to 107.3 with 134 KW ERP (100 horizontal + 34 vertical) from the Terminal Building.  This would have required mounting a 125-foot guyed tower on a 125-foot high building with a 140 X 80 foot roof.  We didn't know if it could actually be done that way, but it got a foot in FCC's door.  About that time I also rewired the studios and transmitter to begin stereo transmission on the 95.3 signal.

In late spring 1969, only two hours of classical programming remained, the nightly Classical Hours from 8 to 10 PM.  The musicologist/programmer/announcer for that program quit, and the Agnews were all set to go total rock.  But the Classical Hours still had a following (and a sponsor!), so I convinced them that my girlfriend (and classical oboist) could do a great job of announcing and programming.  They said OK, and "April" became the Classical Hours host until August 22.  On her last night, just before we got married and moved to California, April took unsolicited calls from dozens of listeners mourning the loss of classical music on FM in Lincoln.
-Joe Moell

During the 70's  the disc jockeys of the rock format on KFMQ had a laid back style of delivery,  although by appearance any of them could have sold insurance or worked for IBM.  At that time the studio was on the top floor of the aging Terminal Bldg (there was a drug store at street level named The Terminal Drug) at 10th and O and on rainy days there were people above the ceiling creating plastic sheet funnels to guide the rain from the roof into buckets in the studio.

As 1990 rolled around KFMQ was not only a great station to listen to, they had studios that were considered some of the best from an engineering standpoint when they were built at 70th & A.  At one time (around 1975-1985)   The line up included Bob Rosel in morning drive, Tom Barker (who would eventually join the Eagle) in middays, Bob Allen in the afternoon, Dale Richards at night and Mike Zangari overnights.  As KFMQ eroded, names like Jon Terry (before he was "aminal!) and Tom Stephens (now at KOOL 105 and former "Planet" personality) would leave Q 102. Suddenly one weekend KFMQ went from saying "In Our Third Decade Of Rock" to "Omaha's Young Country" at Noon on a Saturday in 1992.

The new KYNN wanted to defeat country market dominators WOW (Omaha) and KZKX-96KX (Lincoln). Perfect for a signal on a 1200 foot tower between Lincoln and Omaha. (Still Licensed to Lincoln, Omaha promised more revenue).
While the "Hit Kicker" began to gnaw its way up the ratings chart the station failed to make money, and was sold. 

It was yet another weekend in the spring of 1995 when a computerized voice took over the frequency spouting clichés and promised of a new station (2 days, 12 hours, 42 minutes), counting down to 6:00pm monday evening. Fasten your seat belts! Alternative Rock  debuted commercially in Nebraska as THE EDGE. "No Hype...No Bullshit...." (and with a gasp, everyone thought, "can they say that?!").  Ironically, the move from Rock to Alternative would have made sense prior to the attempted country format, but the format didn't exist commercially yet.  To better cover Omaha, a translator frequency was applied for and 107.7 began appearing on Edge marketing.  Unfortunately, as larger markets such as Oklahoma City and Las Vegas lost their Alternative stations, so did Omaha.  The format that became too popular to stay on non-commercial 'college' radio was not a commercial success afterall.


(Former EDGE Morning show host Chris Baker)

On April 10th, 1998 "The Edge" signed off at 3pm, with the song "It's the end of the world as we know it".  After 5 hours of the song being played over and over, they began simulcasting with sister station Sweet 98.  (Click Here to listen to KQKQ/KGDE dual ID used during simulcast)


Monday morning, April 13th (1998) at 5:30am Mitchell broadcasting debuted their new classic hits format "The Fox".  This came a month after KRKR in Lincoln flipped to the same format, giving Lincoln and Omaha 4 Classic Rock genre formats.  After 4 years and low ratings, the inevitable happened.  one of the four classic rock/hits stations would have to go.  

On February 1, 2002 there was over 9 inches of snow on the ground and Classic Rocker, 101.9 The Fox, began playing "Winter Wonderland".  This would continue until "9:00 Monday Morning" when Waitt Media unveiled Lite Rock 101.9.  KLTQ Sign On 


KLTQ is now part of Waitt Media in Omaha.

 


This site is part of the historical review of Nebraska Radio Stations at NebraskaRadio.com and is not operated by the current owners of LiteRock101.9. We cannot answer questions about the station, take requests. Please call their studio line offices for assistance. If you have historical information you would like included on this site, E-MAIL ME!


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